SOS Metal Reviews: Napalm Death "Times Waits For No Slave," Death By Stereo, Minsk, Warbringer, and more…

Amazon Napalm DeathNAPALM DEATH

TIME WAITS FOR NO SLAVE

Pioneering grindcore unit Napalm Death continue their trademark trail of wreckage, willfully destroying everything in their way with lethal rounds of speed and a rabid sense of aggression on Time Waits For No Slave, the British troupe’s 14th studio endeavor. Exhibiting the ravenous thirst for domination they’ve built into every face-splitting blast beat, crossover metal interchange, and skull-caving breakdown lovingly churned out since their inception in 1981, Napalm Death is one of the few bands that have a broad enough scope to pull off balancing finite consistency with experimental growth spurts, flat out refusing to rest on a decorated extreme metal pedigree or glories of their blueprint back catalog. Instead, this incendiary foursome opts to kick up the intensity and lunge at the jugular with a vintage voracity fueled by the danger and dread they’ve carried since their salad days. Look no further for an album that will blow your head clean off, as Time Waits For No Slave provides a tantalizing mix of grind, death, thrash, and punk as only Napalm Death can deliver. www.centurymedia.com — amazon.com — wikipedia.com –Mike SOS

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AXIS POWERS

MARCHING TOWARDS DESTRUCTION

A revisiting of the Swedish old school death metal style seems to be thriving as of late, and countrymen Axis Powers is making sure the revival stays strong as heard on their sophomore nine-track excursion Marching Towards Destruction. Relying on the wares of the pioneers from the genre for their crushing servings of sinister sonic bliss, this quartet’s retro metal renaissance resonates with the feral fury and devious cadence of early Entombed, Bolt Thrower, and Grave, nailing each ear-splitting guitar riff, rollicking bass line and mangled growl with the menacing malevolence of the originators fully intact. Eschewing metal’s modern virtues for the sake of whipping up a dastardly display of metal the way Mom used to make, Axis Powers provides an unsurprising yet uncompromising listening experience bursting with the distinguished tones of early death metal’s dissonant anguish www.pulverised.com –Mike SOS

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INCOMING CEREBRAL OVERDRIVE

CONTROVERSO

Italian quintet Incoming Cerebral Overdrive’s eight-track endeavor complementarily exhibits this audacious outfit’s well-versed variety of avant-garde hardcore a la Dillinger Escape Plan and Poison the Well. Exuding mighty metalcore premonitions laced with a cathartically scream-y set of vocals, spastic time signature shifts, and a hodgepodge of hellacious guitar tones ranging from ear-splitting to bottom-scraping, this band’s slanted sensibilities yield a dizzying array of volatile tunes armed with spiky transitions, sludge metal tendencies and a dash of cosmically-induced prog-rock noodling for a daring and daunting listening experience. www.supernaturalcat.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon Death By StereoDEATH BY STEREO

DEATH IS MY ONLY FRIEND

Orange County hardcore punk bastion Death By Stereo have made a career of taking chances and changing up their sound, so there’s no surprise that the stalwart act’s fifth full-length disc, the 15-track Death Is My Only Friend continues the trend. Pulling further away from their hardcore punk roots (associating itself more with a modern metallic approach a la Atreyu and AX7 these days) yet retaining the simmering intensity regardless how far the group has traveled off the starting line of the journey, their well-tread lead guitar heavy style and fist-pumping group vocal anthem paradigm remains a huge part of the music’s makeup much to the chagrin of old-schoolers (“Welcome to the Party,” “I Sing for You,” “The Ballad of Sid Dynamite”). The disc does include its fair share of clunky head-scratching moments however, as piano ballad “Forever and a Day” and the awkward stab at radio rock on “The Last Song” comes off contrived and out of place, but ultimately Death By Stereo redeems itself by laying down a satisfying smattering of the hurried punky hullabaloo that put this band on the map in between moments of well-earned but shaky attempts of artistic liberty (“We Sing Today for a Better Tomorrow”). www.serjicalstrike.com — amazon.com — wikipedia.com –Mike SOS

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ANIMALS AS LEADERS

ANIMALS AS LEADERS

One-man progressive metal machine Tosin Abas is the main brain behind Animals as Leaders, a project whose eponymous 12-track excursion daringly thrusts into the far reaches of the metal spectrum, encompassing a progressive metal edge with a slew of decadent fretboard nuances with all-inclusive jazz-fusion tendencies. Doing all the bass and guitar (both 7 and 8-string) tracks himself, Abas creates a world engulfed in lush soundscapes aimed to beguile the listener as a rich array of technical intricacies dually derived from the foundation of both jazz and metal pours out of the speakers. Armed with flurries of enthralling expansiveness, this affair fosters the ambitious musical spirit of a virtuoso player a la Vai and Malmsteen whose first-rate chops never get in the way of its composition’s flow, while displaying a lack of the typecast clinical residue which results in the invigorating feeling of refreshed fluidity this release exudes. www.prostheticrecords.com –Mike SOS

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EKTOMORF

WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME

Hungarian modern groove metal merchants Ektomorf’s latest effort What Doesn’t Kill Me is a plodding installment of utterly unoriginal down-tuned new school heavy music. Are they aware that Sepultura and Soulfly have already written half of these riffs and vocal lines? Simultaneously beating the rap-metal horse to death while grinding the nu metal movement to a halt by rendering a virtual line for line reprisal of all things Cavalera, Ektomorf’s uninspired homage properly radiates a solid slab of rage; shamefully it’s not their own. www.regainrecords.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon MinskMINSK

WITH ECHOES IN THE MOVEMENT OF STONE

Minsk’s third full-length offering serves up a transcendent smorgasbord of post-metal garnished with a masterful blend of styles and flavors. This Chicago, IL quartet channel the spirit of early Genesis, Voivod, and Mastodon to form sonically rich music laden with a cosmically charged left of center progressive metal edge, thrusting this fearless foursome’s pummeling pops of sinister sludgery and episodes of ethereal abrasiveness into realms reserved for the elite of the metal adventurers and the ensuing tolerant followers. Issuing an aura of uncanny uneasiness via the help of exotic compositions and intoxicating instrumentation, With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone wields a power derived from a blend of Minsk’s multitudes of non-metal influence, unrepentant waves of oppressiveness and foreboding musicianship, captivatingly holding attention spans with a mix of skull-splitting scintillation best heard under black light. Epic and intense, Minsk delivers huge here. www.relapse.com — amazon.com — wikipedia.com –Mike SOS

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OLD MAN’S CHILD

SLAVES OF THE WORLD

After a four-year slumber, Dimmu Borgir guitarist Galder resumes his prolific solo project Old Man’s Child with the release of Slaves Of The World. This Norwegian’s nine-track aural assault contains an obligatory dose of symphonic metal complete with keyboard flourishes and dastardly vocal growls, yet there’s also strong elements of death and thrash metal (“Unholy Foreign Crusade”), allowing songs like “On The Devil’s Throne” and “Saviours of Doom” to delve into more sadistic and sinister territories. Maintaining a grandiose vibe that simultaneously spews epic and evil visions (“Ferden Mot Fienden’s Land”), those who despise high-end production will shun this disc immediately, but for those who don’t mind some cracks of light seeping through black walls of despair, Old Man’s Child steadfastly delivers another well-manicured collection of black metal blasphemies. www.centurymedia.com –Mike SOS

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EX-DEO

ROMULUS

Featuring four members from Canadian cripplers Kataklysm, Ex-Deo (rounded out by members of Martyr and Blackgard) focuses on The Roman Empire as the subject matter for this sextet’s incendiary offering Romulus. Masterfully harnessing melodic death metal’s majestic overtones, this 11-track affair bids few surprises yet crushes with a menacing mid-tempo pace, recreating the epic history of the events behind the world’s greatest civilization’s rise and fall along the way. Sturdily built from a proper blend of cavernous chugging guitars, purposeful keyboard accoutrements, and ferocious vocals that accurately narrate the gory glories from the beleaguered battlefields, Ex-Deo’s intriguing slant on Pagan metal renders a cohesive metal attack whose distinct cinematic scope and orchestral instrumentation radiates with the freshness that saves this disc from being cast as just another side project and is worthy for those who enjoy metal at its most sweeping and regal. www.nuclearblastusa.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon WarbringerWARBRINGER

WAKING INTO NIGHTMARES

Los Angeles metal troupe Warbringer churns out an authentically replicated form of the best from thrash metal’s guilded age on the squad’s sophomore effort Waking Into Nightmares. Emulating the fury and power of every Testament riff, Overkill tempo acceleration, Baloff vocal pattern, and Slayer drumbeat as if their own, this quintet’s tried and true array of speed and heaviness (“Shadow of the Tomb”) coupled with a rousing ability to stay the course yet still knock out their own unique blend of searing compositions and rebellious subject matter that gloriously screams 1987 Headbangers Ball all the way. Complete with a snarling Kreator-esque guitar tone (“Scorched Earth”) yielding only to the rich classic metal influenced breaks and interludes peppered throughout (“Nightmare Anatomy”), Waking Into Nightmares is an excellently rounded 10-track disc laden in apocalyptic atmosphere and chock full of unquestionably volatile thrash metal virtue. www.centurymedia.com — amazon.com — wikipedia.com –Mike SOS

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THE NEW BLACK

THE NEW BLACK

German quintet The New Black purposely channels a hard rock from North America appeal on their eponymous debut disc. Sounding like a hybrid with Nickelback’s hooky choruses and commercial flair, Black Label Society’s fretboard gymnastics, and Hellyeah’s sinewy swagger, this outfit’s mammoth whiskey-fueled guitar chugs and piledriving bottom end is solidified with a metal cowboy appeal that fans of Shinedown will appreciate (“Why I Burn”) and a modern hard rock sound tailor made for action sports highlight reels (“Wound”). While some derivation from the blueprint would knock this disc out of the park, all of The New Black’s ass-kicking elements are in place and uncoil at the right times to offer a listening experience for the gym or the pub that won’t disappoint. www.afmrecords.com –Mike SOS

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Amazon Grief of WarGRIEF OF WAR

WORSHIP

Japan’s Grief of War embraces a conglomeration of Bay Area thrash signatures, Germanic rapid-fire tempos and Sepultura-esque intensity (“Disorder”) as evident via the trio’s latest endeavor Worship. Despite the squad’s honorable homage to the battering riffs (“Into the Void”), dive-bomb friendly solos (“Built My Brain”), skull-jolting rhythms, and Kreator-esque seething-mad vocal shouts of yesteryear, Grief of War’s retread is sturdy but a bit too unimaginative, ultimately lacking that intangible spark necessary to place them into the realms of thrash metal’s upper echelon, yet maintains a solid undercurrent of visceral aggression that can easily find a spot somewhere between Nuclear Assault and Death Angel along the grand sonic spectrum. www.prostheticrecords.com — amazon.com — wikipedia.com –Mike SOS

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ICONICIDE

BOUT FUCKING TIME

NYC underground mainstays Iconicide celebrates 20 years of causing a ruckus from below with their subversive mix of NYHC chaos, anarchistic rock tendencies, lo-fi metal belligerence, and caustic punk abrasiveness on Bout Fucking Time. This 10-track affair explores this nonconformist squad’s dastardly mix of snarling guitar riffs, furious drums, and rabid vocal rants, sounding as if unearthed from the catacombs of the abyss (“Name Your Price,” “Biochipped”). Crustily non-PC and completely unapologetic, Iconicide’s slanted sociopolitical stance and unadulterated utter reckless abandon is intentionally sloppy at times and drips with every undesirable nuance of the Big Apple, rendering a welcomed reprieve from the cleanliness and clarity of modern music that sonically socks you in the jaw with the shock of a suckerpunch from behind. www.iconicide.com –Mike SOS

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